Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between MRI and MRA

mri-medicalMRI vs MRA

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a relatively recent diagnostic tool that uses magnetic fields to create an image of the soft tissues within the body. It is very similar to what X-ray imaging but is more advanced and has the capability to show muscles and other organs. MRA stands for Magnetic Resonance Angiography. It is basically identical to an MRI in technology and basic principles but the techniques are geared to show the movement of blood within the veins and arteries of the body.

When you look into an MRI and MRA image of the same part of the body, like the head, there is a distinct difference between the two. An MRI would show the stationary parts of the body, like the brain, and the structures surrounding it. These would not appear in an MRA as it would only show the blood vessels with the areas with greater flow represented with a stronger signal than those areas with slower blood flow.

When it comes to diagnostics, MRAs and MRIs are utilized depending on what the doctor is actually looking for. The greater ability of MRI images to show abnormalities in the soft tissues make it an optimal tool in searching for tumors. With multiple scans, the computer can form a rather detailed 3D image of the body. As previously stated, MRAs are used to scan the blood vessels to find aneurysms or areas that are experiencing constricted flow that may possibly result in one in the near future. This aids the doctor in providing treatment and/or creating preventive measures for the patient.

In summary, MRI and MRA imaging are medical tools that allow the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem that the patient is having. As each of them have their own uses that depend on what the condition is, it is up to the doctor to choose which tool he would like to employ.


1. An MRI is a medical diagnostic tool that uses magnetism to ‘look’ into the body while MRA is a specialized technique of MRI that focuses on blood vessels

2. MRI displays the static portions of the body while an MRA only shows the flow of blood within the blood vessels

3. An MRI is used to look for soft tissue abnormalities like tumors while an MRA is used to detect blockages and blood flow problems

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